Sri Lanka urged by Japan envoy to probe war crimes charges

Nov 30, 2011 (LBO) – A Japanese ‘peace envoy’ to Sri Lanka has pressed the island to probe allegations of human rights abuses that led to the loss of duty free market access to Europe. Yasushi Akashi, who served as a special envoy of the Japanese government during the island’s ethnic war, said a national body could initially probe allegations of war crimes by the military in the last stages of the war to crush Tamil Tiger separatists.

“In the first instance, accountability should be addressed by a national body,” he told a news conference at the end of a four-day visit that included talks with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and other leaders.

Sri Lanka has resisted international pressure for a probe into allegations of human rights abuses.

The allegations of war crimes by the military led to the loss of the GSP Plus trade deal under which Sri Lankan exporters got duty free market access to the European Union, its main export market.

Akashi said a United Nations experts panel report into the allegations said investigations into war crimes could be conducted by a national body in the first instance and that an international body could monitor a local probe and later do it